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NYC police head: We won't quit social media

NEW YORK (AP) -- To put it in social media terms, the New York Police Department got trolled.

The nation's largest police department learned the hard way that there are legions online devoted to short-circuiting even the best-intentioned public relations campaign - in this case, the NYPD's Twitter invitation to people to post feel-good photos of themselves posing with New York's Finest.

What (hash)myNYPD got instead was a montage of hundreds of news images of baton-wielding cops arresting protesters, pulling suspects by the hair, unleashing pepper spray and taking down a bloodied 84-year-old man for jaywalking.

It was a fail of epic proportions, with the hashtag among the most-trafficked in the world Tuesday, creating a public relations nightmare for a new NYPD leadership intent on creating a more community-friendly force.

"We've seen instances before where a hashtag can become a bash-tag," said Glen Gilmore, who teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. "When you're in the social space, it's tough to predict what's going to happen."

A similar meltdown came last November when investment giant JP Morgan Chase, which had been paying billions in fines stemming from the financial crisis, asked followers on Twitter to post career advice questions. Among them: "Did you have a specific number of people's lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success?"

McDonald's inadvertently ordered up some bad publicity in 2012 with its (hash)McDStories campaign. Sample response: "I walked into a McDonald's and could smell the Type II diabetes."

The (hash)myNYPD misfire comes at a time when new Police Commissioner William Bratton is trying to re-brand the department to counter criticism that it has been trampling on people's civil rights. Last week, it disbanded an intelligence unit that spied on Muslim neighborhoods, and it has promised to reforms to the crime-fighting tactic known as stop and frisk.

Bratton acknowledged Wednesday that the Twitter campaign may not have been fully thought through.

"Was that particular reaction from the some of the police adversaries anticipated? To be quite frank, it was not," Bratton said. "But at the same time it's not going to cause us to change any of our efforts to be very active on social media. ... It is what it is. It's an open, transparent world."

The (hash)myNYPD traffic was holding steady on Wednesday, but the dialogue had shifted from mockery of the NYPD to an analysis of what went wrong, including the tweet "Social Media 101: Be careful what you ask for."

Anthony Rotolo, a professor of digital communications at Syracuse University, suggested another appropriate response could have been (hash)SMH - shake my head.

"A lot of time the eagerness to embrace social media tools overshadows our common sense," Rololo said. "In other types of media, we would not so quickly jump to something like this without doing our groundwork first."

Still, there was some evidence Wednesday that the outreach may bear fruit.

One person posted a photo of herself standing next to an officer on horseback in Times Square. Another posted a picture of two smiling officers on patrol and wrote, "These guys put their lives on the line every day. They deserve our respect and gratitude."

NYPD's Twitter Campaign #MyNYPD Backfires

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spirited102960 April 23 2014 at 10:36 PM

REALLY?? In NYC???? What did the NYPD expect to happen? An observant by-passer saying "Hey, let's take a pic together!" That's more like Pleasantville (the movie) than NYC. Whomever thought this one up should have a talking-to.

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JOSEPH G MATTERA April 23 2014 at 9:14 PM

BETCHA 1/3 FAIL.............

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adestefano2 April 23 2014 at 9:11 PM

Police can be really abusive at times. I think they should be suspended without pay and charged with assault in some cases. I like the state cops in New Jersey. When I'm driving on 295 in New Jersey doing the speed limit of 65, these cops drive in the fast lane at about 85 miles per hour. One cop was stuck behind some cars doing the speed limit and he put on his lights as if he was in pursuit, but in fact he was only trying to pass them.

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1 reply
Rick adestefano2 April 23 2014 at 9:18 PM

Spoken as a person who probably has been rightfully busted many times I'm sure. Loser.

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migellc April 24 2014 at 12:23 AM

For protection and safety to a less than perfect society as we have is good to have enforcement of laws available everywhere but no one have to be badly beat or tased multiple times to be subdue. As long for the taser-guns I will recommend to get those weapons modified to make it less lethal as it actually are probe to being nationwide. In the meantime just do not put it trigger so much times at once until further modification of such weapons take place eventually. Po-li-ce Pl-ea-se Po-li-ce!

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1 reply
bigred8690 migellc April 24 2014 at 12:25 AM

Police tasers only zap for five seconds, since they expect to cuff you immediately afterwards. Civilians versions zap for 30 seconds. Which one do you want to be hit with?

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smith52e April 23 2014 at 9:11 PM

the police in this country are totally out of control. i call for a nationwide non violent revolt against them. the time is now

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2 replies
chvol smith52e April 23 2014 at 9:28 PM

We need a presidential candidate who will bring us back to what the founding fathers describe in the constitution. A candidate who will bring back our freedoms, prosecute war criminals, stop violations of international law, and push for equal rights for citizens. 10 years in jail for punching a cop? Then 10 years in jail if a cop punches you.

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bobsadmassistco smith52e April 23 2014 at 10:10 PM

Unfortunately a 'non-violent' revolt is useless. This country (or almost any country) never comes into being by a 'non-violent' revolt. The powers that be would laugh at us, the taze us, club us, round us up, throw us jail and/or simply shoot us. Now, I definately like what happened in Nevada recently.

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Buckingham's April 23 2014 at 9:11 PM

Almost as corrupt as the LAPD.

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hd88softail April 23 2014 at 7:48 PM

F-in NYC Wouldn't live ther if you gave me the money!

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1 reply
astralfitness hd88softail April 23 2014 at 8:28 PM

If you look like a bandito wearing a bandana over your face and are in the wrong place at the wrong time in China you may be rightfully so, be beaten down and shot in the back of your head. Here in the United States; it is left up to the Officer; who is in constant threat, as well as the people he or she is sworn to protect. If you are an officer and you are injured, you are suspect of trying to use the system to your benefit. With your life and your families well being on the line, with your back on the wall, as an officer; there is no question, but to defend yourself and control of the situation,; defending self, state, family and control! "Pacifists" and "Vendetta Organizations" want to advertize suppossed abuse by the "sytem"; whether it is police as individuals self preservation; or the "Vendetta Organizations / Individuals" pictures of their "suppressed and abused rights". This is not to say there are not problems in the system as it is; but the problems stem from all sides; sometimes with the officer(s) having no where to go for a haven or protection. Where will everyone go and what will they do when these brave men and women resign because of the duress and pressure put on them?! :)

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dgrz12 April 23 2014 at 7:51 PM

This whole thing had to be the new mayor's idea. He's great at PR.

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1 reply
alantatanka dgrz12 April 23 2014 at 8:13 PM

Another left/lib wanting to dismantle what is good and what is working..

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belldn3 April 24 2014 at 12:16 AM

Just as corrupt as LAPD. What's new?

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Cooke Wealth LLC April 23 2014 at 11:05 PM

Perhaps the take away that the NYPD and other police forces should have is that they way over react to almost all situations with excessive force, not that they made a social media mistake.

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